To Dance with the White Dog

( 28 )

Overview

SAM PEEK'S CHILDREN ARE WORRIED....

When his beloved wife of fifty-seven years dies, no one knows what will become of elderly Sam Peek. How can he live all alone on his farm with no one to talk to, and no one to look after him? And when Sam begins talking about a pure white dog that only he can see, his children think that age and grief have finally taken their toll on their father's mind. But whether the dog is real or imagined, Sam Peek is ...

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Overview

SAM PEEK'S CHILDREN ARE WORRIED....

When his beloved wife of fifty-seven years dies, no one knows what will become of elderly Sam Peek. How can he live all alone on his farm with no one to talk to, and no one to look after him? And when Sam begins talking about a pure white dog that only he can see, his children think that age and grief have finally taken their toll on their father's mind. But whether the dog is real or imagined, Sam Peek is about to show everyone how much life he still has in him....

With heartfelt emotion and touching grace, Sam and White Dog will dance from the pages of this bittersweet novel and into your heart, as they share the mysteries of life in a warm and moving final rite of passage.

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Editorial Reviews

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"A master storyteller."
Anne Rivers Siddons
"To Dance with the White Dog is what literature is — or should be — all about....Kay is simply a miraculous writer....This book...burns with life."
The Most Reverend Desmond M. Tutu
"A hauntingly beautiful story about love, family, and relationships"
New York Times bestselling author Pat Conroy
"Terry Kay is a perfect writer for those who love to read. His prose contains music and passion and fire. His work is tender and heartbreaking and memorable."
From the Publisher
"Terry Kay is a perfect writer for those who love to read. His prose contains music and passion and fire. His work is tender and heartbreaking and memorable."

"This short book moves like poetry....A loving eulogy to old age....A tender celebration of life, made poignant by death being so close at hand."

"Manages to texture a plethora of everyday details with a kind of subtle, supernatural resonance."

"To Dance with the White Dog is what literature is — or should be — all about....Kay is simply a miraculous writer....This book...burns with life."

"A hauntingly beautiful story about love, family, and relationships"

"A master storyteller."

Los Angeles Times
"This short book moves like poetry....A loving eulogy to old age....A tender celebration of life, made poignant by death being so close at hand."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594430704
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1991
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 8.06 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Kay's novels include Taking Lottie Home, The Runaway, Shadow Song, and the now-classic To Dance with the White Dog, twice nominated for the American Booksellers Book of the Year Award, and winner of the Southeastern Library Association Book of the Year Award. Terry Kay has been married for 44 years and has four children and seven grandchildren. He lives in Athens, Georgia.

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Introduction

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1) Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from a third person omniscient point of view instead of using a first person narrator? How might your reading experience have been affected had it been told only through the eyes of Sam?

2) How do outside forces, like weather, seem to play upon what the main character may be feeling? In what ways does the physical world relate to what is happening in Sam's emotional landscape? Why does the author choose to develop this parallel between Sam and the world that surrounds him? What do we learn about him that we might not otherwise learn?

3) Sam's journal is a substantive part of this novel and becomes more and more important as the story moves on. In chapter thirteen, his journal entries make up nearly the entire chapter. In what ways is this journal almost like a character in and of itself? How does it help shape plot, and what kind of insights does it give us into Sam's loneliness and his love for his family? If the journal entries had been left out, how would this novel be different?

4) Talk about setting as it is presented in this novel. How does the serene, natural beauty of the farm highlight larger themes that the author may be trying to explore?

5) Kate and Carrie's concern for their father, and their desire to treat him like a child or an invalid, reaches an almost comic level at many points in this novel. All children worry about elderly parents, especially ones with health problems, but why do you think these two women go so far in their attempts to take care of Sam? Is this strictly comic relief, or do you think the author might be making a moreprofound statement about growing old?

6) It is interesting that one of the most important characters, Cora, is not physically present, having died before the novel begins. In what ways do we get a sense of who this woman was, even though she is absent? Did you feel that you had a clear picture of her character? What kind of woman was she?

7) The white dog is somewhat of an illusive presence: no one is sure whether it is a real dog, a ghost dog, or a dog at all. Howard Cook observes, late in the novel: "Maybe the lesson the Lord had intended for him to learn was in the white dog.... Maybe the dog was like the whale in the Jonah story, or like the lions with Daniel, or the doves of Noah's ark. Maybe the dog was the message and Sam Peek only the messenger." Keeping this quote in mind, talk about what the white dog means for individual characters and what she ultimately might represent in the world of this story. Did you believe that she was, as Sam insists in the end, the ghost of Cora?

8) In the same scene, Howard Cook also thinks to himself, "The Lord had finally put Sam Peek and Howard Cook together, and there was a reason for it, a reason other than helping Sam Peek find his way to Madison." Do you think there is divine intervention throughout this novel? Can you think of any other instances that seem to imply that a greater power is at work, or any which call that idea into question?

9) Why do you think it is so important to Sam to make it to the reunion? What is the significance of the picture of Cora and Marshall that he takes with him? Why has he chosen not to share it with his children?

10) If you had to describe Sam to a friend, what kinds of adjectives would you use? Is he a happy man? A proud man? A smart man? In what ways, if any, does he change by the end of the novel? What people or events cause him to change?

11) At the end of the story, the author states that this novel is based on "the truth — as I realized it — of my parents." Did this revelation change your reading of the story? How might your experience with this novel have been different had this disclaimer been made at the beginning of the book?

Terry Kay's novels include Taking Lottie Home, The Runaway, Shadow Song, and the now-classic To Dance with the White Dog, twice nominated for the American Booksellers Book of the Year Award, and winner of the Southeastern Library Association Book of the Year Award. Terry Kay has been married for 44 years and has four children and seven grandchildren. He lives in Athens, Georgia.

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Reading Group Guide

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1) Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from a third person omniscient point of view instead of using a first person narrator? How might your reading experience have been affected had it been told only through the eyes of Sam?

2) How do outside forces, like weather, seem to play upon what the main character may be feeling? In what ways does the physical world relate to what is happening in Sam's emotional landscape? Why does the author choose to develop this parallel between Sam and the world that surrounds him? What do we learn about him that we might not otherwise learn?

3) Sam's journal is a substantive part of this novel and becomes more and more important as the story moves on. In chapter thirteen, his journal entries make up nearly the entire chapter. In what ways is this journal almost like a character in and of itself? How does it help shape plot, and what kind of insights does it give us into Sam's loneliness and his love for his family? If the journal entries had been left out, how would this novel be different?

4) Talk about setting as it is presented in this novel. How does the serene, natural beauty of the farm highlight larger themes that the author may be trying to explore?

5) Kate and Carrie's concern for their father, and their desire to treat him like a child or an invalid, reaches an almost comic level at many points in this novel. All children worry about elderly parents, especially ones with health problems, but why do you think these two women go so far in their attempts to take care of Sam? Is this strictly comic relief, or do you think the author might be making a more profound statement about growing old?

6) It is interesting that one of the most important characters, Cora, is not physically present, having died before the novel begins. In what ways do we get a sense of who this woman was, even though she is absent? Did you feel that you had a clear picture of her character? What kind of woman was she?

7) The white dog is somewhat of an illusive presence: no one is sure whether it is a real dog, a ghost dog, or a dog at all. Howard Cook observes, late in the novel: "Maybe the lesson the Lord had intended for him to learn was in the white dog.... Maybe the dog was like the whale in the Jonah story, or like the lions with Daniel, or the doves of Noah's ark. Maybe the dog was the message and Sam Peek only the messenger." Keeping this quote in mind, talk about what the white dog means for individual characters and what she ultimately might represent in the world of this story. Did you believe that she was, as Sam insists in the end, the ghost of Cora?

8) In the same scene, Howard Cook also thinks to himself, "The Lord had finally put Sam Peek and Howard Cook together, and there was a reason for it, a reason other than helping Sam Peek find his way to Madison." Do you think there is divine intervention throughout this novel? Can you think of any other instances that seem to imply that a greater power is at work, or any which call that idea into question?

9) Why do you think it is so important to Sam to make it to the reunion? What is the significance of the picture of Cora and Marshall that he takes with him? Why has he chosen not to share it with his children?

10) If you had to describe Sam to a friend, what kinds of adjectives would you use? Is he a happy man? A proud man? A smart man? In what ways, if any, does he change by the end of the novel? What people or events cause him to change?

11) At the end of the story, the author states that this novel is based on "the truth — as I realized it — of my parents." Did this revelation change your reading of the story? How might your experience with this novel have been different had this disclaimer been made at the beginning of the book?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(23)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2004

    White Dog is loving and outstanding¿

    This is a fascinating story about the loss and love, and the hardships of growing older that we all must face someday. Where the straight seem insane and the sane might seem crazy, the comedy of this book is sweet while the sadness touches you and holds you long after you finish reading for the night. With this character driven novel, you come to know, to enjoy, and ultimately to miss the main character whether it be Sam Peeke or White dog. This beautiful story is a testament to family, and relationships, and ultimately to Terry Kay. A must read that touches you and leaves you with a true loss, but at the same time with true feeling and love.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2002

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND

    This story is a testament to the meaning of true love and family. The characters are well-developed. This book has just enough detail to keep you reading, but it's quick and easy. Beautiful story about relationships. Loved the main character and the dog! Wonderful story! I highly recommend this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2012

    This was a warm and sweet book.

    Very much a book about love. Love it from beginning to end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2009

    A must-read for adult children with aging parents.

    A delightful presentation of the handling of a family with an aging member; in fact, in some incidents there are outright laugh-out-loud happenings, as well as very touching moments. I have read it twice!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2004

    A story of loss and change.

    To Dance With the White Dog is an intriguing novel following one man through a lifetime of memories. Sam Peek a respectible tree farmer, devoted husband, and great father relearns that the simple things in life are some of the most important after all. I enjoyed this novel so much i went on to read a couple of oter titles by him.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2004

    This is a story about grief, aging, love and family.

    This is a story about grief, aging, love and family through a mysterious White Dog that can only be seen by Sam Peek. It demonstrated a life-long love, natural process of aging and family relationship. You can taste bitterness and sweetness as you entered Sam¿s life. You can feel the tears in his eyes, loneliness in his heart and joys on his face throughout the entire book. The book is simple and easy to read. Once you start, you can¿t stop.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    Love this book!

    I read this for the first time in 7th grade to pass the time, yes im a little geeky, and fell iin love with it, have loved it every time ive read it since!!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Summerkit

    Does a summersault

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2013

    Skyshadow

    I here!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Seakit and salmonkit

    Hi mom they said

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    CAN B A NURSERY

    Queens and kits.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012

    touching story

    thoroughly enjoyed this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    Mercy Me!

    A must read for all generations of a family. There are lessons to be learned from the father, the children and those who love and treasure animals. If all families were to live their lives such as this family did, what a wonderful world it would be...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    Absolutely beautiful.

    Sweet, touching story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2012

    Outstanding.

    Good reading.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2010

    Dance with White Dog

    A good read for someone who has recently lost a parent and to possibly get the feelings of the other parent left behind

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2001

    Powerful and beautiful!

    This wonderful novel will inspire and change you. A beautiful, moving story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2001

    A lovely tale of lifelong love

    This book offers an insightful view of human nature and relationships. For romantics, it is a beautiful story of love that lasted a lifetime - and beyond. It offers knowing and humorous insights on human nature and family dynamics. Especially for southern readers, it is exceedingly -- and enjoyably -- true to life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2001

    A Great Book!!!

    This book was wonderful!!! It was filled with love, loss, mystery, and even a little humor. Terry Kay is a great writer!!! I highly recommend you to read it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2001

    A Beautiful Love Story.

    If you know what it means to love and to be loved....if you believe that love never dies....then this book is for you! (If you're a dog lover, it will help even more!) It will bring a smile on your face.... and tears in your eyes.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews

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